But we’re not there yet. "EyeToy: Antigrav" proves it.
Man, did I want to like this game. It thinks big and it thinks creatively. In fact, I still like this game, though I cannot faithfully endorse it. There is so much promise, and so little delivery.
"EyeToy: Antigrav" takes us closer than ever to a commercially produced virtual reality. You are actually part of the game, courtesy of the PlayStation 2’s EyeToy camera accessory (included).
You plug the camera into your game console and set it up on top of your TV. Then stand about five feet from the screen. After a couple of minutes calibrating your body with the camera, the wonders begin.
The camera captures your motions and translates them directly into the game. You control one of eight cartoon characters as he or she rides a hoverboard through five colorful arenas.
You ride rails, jump ramps, duck obstacles, soar through the air and rip off huge tricks like triple flips and twists and crazy swoops and dives. Think of the "SSX" snowboarding games – except for the very huge innovation that you’re not holding a PS2 controller. You are the controller.
When it works, the feeling is inspiring and tiring. I soared through the air, holding my arms out like an airplane as I stood in front of the TV. I banked left, swooped right, dove and climbed. I jumped ramps that sent me shooting into the sky. Then I swung my arms high like a choir conductor, setting off a series of back flips and twirls. At the end of the first arena, I had to take a breather.
Now, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. More often, it’s not that smooth. If the lighting is not perfect in your home, the EyeToy will miss or misinterpret some of your movements.
I kept missing targets as I flew through the air. My body was issuing the right commands, but the darn camera just wouldn’t read them correctly.
You can fiddle with it. I put a desk lamp in front of the TV, and pointed it right at my face, as the instruction manual suggested. That made things worse.
If the lighting isn’t uniform on your body, the camera misreads you. You end up finding awkward ways to adapt, such as locking your face and hands forward, moving like a mime against an imagined wall, and repeating movements until they are translated properly.
Most times that’s too late. And that means "EyeToy: Antigrav" is probably too early. This game is an intriguing look at the future, but it’s not quite ready for today.
© 2005, Detroit Free Press. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.